July in Chicago: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Add Taste of Chicago and the Ravinia Festival to your must-do list

Chicago swimmer
A swimmer dives in to lake Michigan to cool off. Scott Olson/Getty Images

July in Chicago gives you plenty of opportunities to get outdoors, with fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July or just a regular summer evening at Navy Pier; the annual Taste of Chicago in historic Grant Park; the famed Ravinia Festival, the oldest outdoor music festival in the United States; and more neighborhood cultural events than you can imagine.

Explore the city with a bike ride along the river or visit one of many Chicago beaches, which rival anything you can find at the coast. When you want to head indoors for a blast of cool air, check out the Shedd Aquarium or the Field Museum, or refresh yourself with a dip in one of the top indoor and outdoor pools in the city.

Chicago Weather in July

You may find yourself wishing for the city's namesake breeze during Chicago's hottest month. But the warm weather makes July a perfect time to explore neighborhoods by bike or restaurants on one of the city's many culinary tours.

  • Average high temperature: 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low temperature: 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius)

Chicago sees on average seven days of rain in July, with total accumulations of about 3.7 inches for the month. Days stretch from about 14.5 to 15 hours during July, giving you ample time to sample the city's many outdoor activities.

What to Pack

Chicago's cosmopolitan skyline contrasts its relaxed Midwestern vibe. You can dress for casual comfort in the city, with shorts and T-shirts the accepted attire at many restaurants, museums, and tourist attractions. But step it up a bit for dinner or a theater visit with slacks and a button-down shirt or a dress. The temperature often dips significantly at night, so pack a sweater or hoodie for an added layer. Bring an umbrella to prevent an interruption to your sightseeing schedule by an afternoon drizzle, and be sure to pack your most comfortable walking shoes.

July Events in Chicago

Chicagoans take it outdoors in July, with multiple food and cultural festivals scheduled every weekend. Pick your pleasure from the long list of large downtown gatherings and smaller neighborhood-based diversions.

  • Bastille Day: French restaurants and bars throughout Chicago make it easy for Francophiles to commemorate the start of the French Revolution.
  • Chicago SummerDance: Grant Park turns into an urban dance floor on Thursdays through Sundays throughout the month, with live bands and DJs directing the crowd into the swing, a waltz, or a cha-cha-cha.
  • Chosen Few Picnic & Music Festival: This long-running event has grown from a few friends getting together to share their love of House music, which got its start on Chicago Southside, into a crowd of 35,000 fans.
  • Fireworks: Celebrate the Fourth of July at Navy Pier or catch one of many other fireworks displays around town.
  • Movies in the Park: When dusk falls, join Chicago residents in the nearest park for a free movie screening, part of the Night Out in the Parks program. The films range from classics to indie standouts to recent Hollywood favorites.
  • Pitchfork Music Festival: This three-day event in Chicago's Union Park highlights the best new music and emerging performers.
  • Ravinia Festival: This diverse concert lineup includes both classical and contemporary artists. Children and students in high school or college can enjoy classical performances with free seating on the lawn.
  • Taste of Chicago: Grant Parks plays host for the world's largest food festival, where vendors showcase the diversity of Chicago's culinary scene. Live music gives you a chance to dance off the excess calories while family-friendly activities make it a win for everyone.
  • Taste of River North: Mix good tunes with food and you have the recipe for a fantastic summer gathering. This event fills Ward Park with more than 35,000 hungry music lovers.
  • Wicker Park Fest: Called "Chicago's Best Street Festival of Summer" by the Chicago Tribune, this three-day event features a lineup of bands curated by the Subterranean, an iconic live music venue in the Wicker Park neighborhood.

    July Travel Tips

    • July brings a bump in hotel prices due to increased demand during the tourism high season. Book early for the best deals.
    • Midwest summer thunderstorms flare up unexpectedly; mentally prepare yourself for flight delays or travel snafus; here's where to dine and drink if you get stranded at one of the airports.

    To learn more about the pros and cons of visiting Chicago in July, check out our guide to summer in the city.